This is truly a remarkable account and one that every American should read. I wasn't sure I could make it through the graphic discussion of the cruelt...moreThis is truly a remarkable account and one that every American should read. I wasn't sure I could make it through the graphic discussion of the cruelty routinely dispensed upon the slaves but hearing Frederick Douglass describe his mental and emotional journey up out of total oppression and into freedom and independence was enlightening to say the least. (less)
This is a nice little book of sample dialogs between fictional everyday people discussing actual life issues which carry philosophical and theological...moreThis is a nice little book of sample dialogs between fictional everyday people discussing actual life issues which carry philosophical and theological significance. Since my worldview matches that of the author I found it very enjoyable and worthwhile to assist in my own conversations, even though the dialogs seemed a bit robotic at times. I've heard the author speak now on two separate occasions and have been impressed at his ability to own and clarify his beliefs tolerantly (in the classical sense) and respectfully alongside others - a skill which I find many Christians today are not practiced in. This book may help with that. A fast read too - took me two days!(less)
From the back cover of the book: "Reasons to Believe scholars proclaim the powerful message that logic and science support, rather than erode, trust in...moreFrom the back cover of the book: "Reasons to Believe scholars proclaim the powerful message that logic and science support, rather than erode, trust in the transcendent God of the Bible. The harmony becomes clear as they present testable truth."
I put that here because that was exactly what this book set out to do (and in my opinion accomplished) in the specific area of cosmology. Since I'm already a believer in the Bible and Christianity what was most exciting to me was learning about astrophysics and the 13.73 billion year history of our universe as scientists have discovered it so far. (Please note, like some Christians, I do not hold a "young earth creationist" worldview and neither does the author.) For instance, did you know that in Ontario is our planet's richest nickel deposit and that it is the result of an asteroid collision during an uninhabitable time in our planetary development (p. 50)? Facts like this and many others about mass, gravity, the second law of thermodynamics had me both fascinated and educated about what has been going on since the big bang and what we can expect to happen as this universe continues to age. Soaking up words like "galactic habitable zone," "solar twin" and "dark energy" had me feeling like a Trekkie throughout much of the book - I felt I could almost talk authoritatively on the subject! (But then one of the appendices went just a bit less "layman-y" and I was bored to tears - so I probably won't quit my day job for astronomy just yet!)
Ross did an excellent job handling the scientific evidence of the universe and, true to the Reasons to Believe model, he intertwined it with theological/philosophical discussion as well - referencing relevant Biblical verses at many points. While there was nothing really "wrong" with his theology I did find his theological language a bit overly superlative and flowery at times - an unfortunate common practice in religious discussions. Personally, I much prefer the blunt, to-the-point style of scientific discussion and think it carries through nicely to philosophical discussions as well, especially in a book like this. However, I wouldn't say his language reduced the force of his conclusions in any way, but only caused a minor personal irritation in the handling of the "testable truth."
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this book for me was having a few new insights into both the physical world I live in and how it relates to the Biblical account. Let's just say that this book gave my worldview an updated framework... the following passage may better explain my meaning. In discussing the fall of man (Adam and Eve leaving Eden), Ross writes:
===== God did not curse the world directly. There's no evidence to suggest alterations occurred in the physics of the universe or Earth. Few cosmic features could be more important for revealing their Maker than the constancy of the physical laws. If the force of gravity or the velocity of light changed occasionally, the result would be chaos and confusion (not to mention extermination). The universe would be indecipherable, at best, if each star and planet formed by different principles and processes. The biblical prophet Jeremiah declared that the laws that govern the heavens and Earth are as "fixed," or secure, as God's promises to Israel (see Jer. 33:25-26). The apostle Paul said the entire universe (which would include all its space-time realm) is subject to the law of decay (see Rom. 8:18-23). ... Rather than the laws being changed, the ground became cursed as Adam and his descendants altered the manner of their work. Instead of wisely administering resources for the benefit of the plants, animals, and all life as God commanded (see Gen. 1:28-30), Adam and Eve and their descendants allowed greed, laziness, and selfishness to ruin their environment. ... When humans practice evil, they experience additional pain and work. Extra work that serves no purpose but to partially reverse the effects of sin becomes "painful toil." (pp. 168-169) =====
What is so ground-breaking about this to me personally is that like so many other personal learnings, this about our vast, mysterious, almost-incomprehensible universe has only reinforced once-mysterious biblical accounts. The Garden of Eden wasn't heaven! It was part of the same Earth we all inhabit today and subject to the same laws. Adam and Eve weren't super heroes with special abilities! They were human beings subject to the same physical laws we all abide by today.
Thinking about this led me to consider that superstition (acting as though some parts of your physical life on Earth doesn't abide by physical scientific laws) has no place in a functional worldview - an accurate worldview will honestly deal with the facts of the world around us, not conveniently "magic" them away.
At the end of the book Ross discusses the end of the universe and what we might expect of life in a realm not restricted by space-time. (Think stick figures trying to comprehend life outside their piece of paper.) This is a pretty exciting section and shines a light of hope on an otherwise bleak inevitability to life in a permanently decaying universe.
With this book Ross has helped me simultaneously understand more about our physical universe and further develop my worldview in an intellectually honest way. I look forward to reading and learning more like this from the Reasons to Believe scholars.(less)
This is an awesome book. Keller starts by addressing the seven biggest objections people today tend to have about Christianity (part one) and then, in...moreThis is an awesome book. Keller starts by addressing the seven biggest objections people today tend to have about Christianity (part one) and then, in part two takes it further by offering reasons to believe in Christianity (not just responses to doubts). I found his logic to be fair and reasonable, with plenty of references to literature and current cultural experiences to help clarify points.
My favorite sections, which provided new insight to me, were his refutation of the idea that Christianity "forces people from diverse cultures into a single iron mold" and his coverage of the Trinity being "in essence, relational" and how therefore relationship is embedded into the fabric of our world. (He discusses these things way better than I am attempting to summarize here of course...)
All in all, an excellent treatise on the Christian world view.(less)
Witty and well-written, Dawkins is obviously well-read and an intelligent force in the atheist movement.
Even so, his book did not sway me towards the...moreWitty and well-written, Dawkins is obviously well-read and an intelligent force in the atheist movement.
Even so, his book did not sway me towards the atheist worldview, at all. Which surprised me. I expected at least a bit of a philosophical struggle to work through. Instead I found cherry-picked examples of the horrors produced by "religion", plenty of witty insults lacking real substance, a few astonishing and unsupported claims ("[Religion] teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.") and lots of personal hypotheses.
About halfway through the book I realized that part of my problem is that Dawkins holds such a completely separate worldview than me. I do feel that many of his points against specific religions and religious sects are valid and of course his points against people that do unspeakable acts in the name of their religion (like abortion doctor murderers) are also valid. But for me personally, the fact that humans can think and do weird/bad things in the name of religion does not negate the possibility that at least one religious worldview has got it right. If you are ambivalent about religion to start with (agnostic) you may find Dawkins making more sense to you. But if, like me, you already hold to one specific belief system, you will not find much meat to chew on.
In the last few chapters, Dawkins seems to ease up on the bullying and his compassionate side really shines through. Here we see just why he is so militant against religion (people emotionally scarred by excessive fears of hell, the hideous antics of "Christian" demonstrators, quotes by "Christian" leaders like Pat Robertson). I definitely found myself relating to this indignation and wanting to do something about it!
What Dawkins fails to realize, though, is that atheism/secular humanism/naturalism is just another religious worldview and one, in my opinion and experience, that is as wrong and incompatible with the actual world as so many others. Throughout my entire reading of the book one phrase kept coming to mind: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!(less)
The philosophy, the history, the in-depth analysis of present American culture... this book is a great launching pad for the newbie interested in Chri...moreThe philosophy, the history, the in-depth analysis of present American culture... this book is a great launching pad for the newbie interested in Christian apologetics. What a refreshingly intellectual discussion of Christianity in a sea of emotionally-based fluff. Liberating indeed.(less)
J.P. Moreland does a great job covering "The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul."
He starts out discussing anti-intellectualism in today's America...moreJ.P. Moreland does a great job covering "The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul."
He starts out discussing anti-intellectualism in today's American Christian culture (how we got there) and then lays out what one can personally do to reclaim the life of the mind.
I especially liked his brief lesson on logic (Modus Ponens, Modus Tollens, and Disjunctive syllogisms), his examples of apologetic reasoning in action (responses to skepticism, scientism, and moral relativism), and the description of his own personal note-taking system to foster a greater intellectual experience when reading.
He devotes his final chapter to church business and ideas on how to combat the current climate within the church of hostility and/or indifference to the intellectual life - including changing up pastoring models, supporting proactive lending libraries, and hosting seminars, among others.
Hmmmm, maybe I'll buy a copy for my pastor...(less)